(Note: If you have not seen the Nicholas Cage movie Knowing yet, and still plan to, whether on DVD or cable, and do not wish to be spoiled, stop reading now. I go into bitter, bitter detail*, all the way to the end.)
The woe of Sunday night at our house is not to be believed - hundreds of channels, a metric tonne of DVDs, some of which we haven't even watched yet (I'm saving City of the Living Dead for an idle afternoon), and we decide to rent a movie from Comcast. I'm a sucker for apocalyptic movies, and more unfortunately, a sucker for Nic Cage movies (yes, I know they're bad; it doesn't seem to matter), so we rented Knowing.
From the trailers - if you caught them; the movie was delayed, then came and went in theaters in less than the blink of an eye, it seemed - you can pretty much tell that bad things will happen in this movie. It starts with a flashback to 50 years ago, when a mad little girl with a penchant for writing numbers in long rows puts her sheet of numbers in the cheesy "time capsule" that her school is burying. She was supposed to draw pictures of the future like all her classmates, so 50 years from then, kids can see how delusionally hopeful they were -
where is my flying car and robot, anyway?
- but she simply writes numbers. Numbers of the future. Which, of course, we all know, because we saw the trailers. At this point, most trailers give away so much of the damned movie that it's not actually neccessary to watch the movie to work out the story, unless you want the "twist" at the end.
Numbers girl is not allowed to finish, so she hides in a closet in the school basement and scratches the last of the numbers in the door. Because it's so much cooler to see her with bloody fingernails in the dark, than to have her just write the rest of the numbers down somewhere else and write "do not open until 50 years from now" on the outside, don'tcha know.
So, it's 50 years from then, present day or so, and Cage is a drunk dad who's lost his wife (I think he plays this character in every movie now - it's shorthand for "pathos") in a terrible, turrible fire, and he has a weird son that likes the Discovery Channel, and somehow escapes being pulverized every day at school even though the kid is certifiably weird with a capital IERD, at least as far as movie normaldom goes. Teh liking of the Discovery Channelz is the big clue. Also, he wants to be a vegetarian.
By fantastic coincidence, Cage is an astrophysicist of some sort - meaning that the numbers will probably make sense to him, instead of being gibberish - and his kid goes to the same primary school as numbers girl. Dad is tortured, and wonders if there's any point - you know, typical tortured male hero stuff.
(Hey, I didn't say the movie was good, just that I have a weakness for this kind of movie. I watched that appalling miniseries about a dwarf brown star hitting the moon on NBC a couple of weeks back, and that wasn't good, either - but I watched it.)
Kid gets envelope full of numbers. Dad sees it, works out COMPLETELY BY CHANCE BECAUSE HE SAW THE N
Kid starts seeing scary enbalmed-looking people that whisper to him through his hearing aid.
Of course, in typical movie fashion, he's not really deaf, because that's icky, he just uses the aid because he "hears the words jumbled sometimes". I kid you not, that's what the script said. Of course, he knows sign language, and is supposedly an "expert" (*eye roll*), but the only ASL you see him do is "you", "me", "together", because it's cute and ...meaningful, I guess. Not even "I love you", which freaking everyone knows now, don't they?**
So, Cage works out that the extra numbers between the dates and the number of people, thanks to being almost flattened by a plane, and instead of being as far away as possible from the next one, tries to get to the exact epicenter, because of a convenient possible "terrorist attack" red herring.
(Please. Next did terrorist attacks - this one is intended to be much, much bigger than that.)
But, no terrorist attack - it turns out electrical stuff is messing up thanks to solar flares, and two trains crash together, killing the exact number of people the paper said would die, but not including Cage, even though he was on the freaking train, close enough to the front to see the other train coming. We can't kill our hero yet, can we? Let's introduce a romantic red herring instead!
Of course, he seeks out the daughter of numbers girl, who has a daughter of her own, and she, after some understandable initial resistance, suddenly does what no-one else would ever do, and starts helping our hero. She takes him to numbers girls's trailer in the middle of nowhere, and it's untouched, with everything still in it.
(BTW, I am as good at suspender and belting my disbelief as anyone, but I have never ever seen an abandoned building, no matter how remote, that hasn't been rifled or at least explored at some point, especially when it's been standing empty long enough for a 1" layer of dust to accumulate.)
There are stones. The kids have been given stones by scary embalmed blond people. The stones are under the bed. The bed has... scratches.
What do the scratches say? Oh. We're all fucked. Okay, so this movie is going in a direction that's a little more apocalyptic than previously expected, yes?
Well, maybe. (Okay, yes. But you're not supposed to know that yet.) Meanwhile, the kids, boy and girl, are being menaced by the "whisper people", who are inviting the kids to go with them, and they will have candy and pet bunnies and puppies. The girl, seeing the practical benefits of puppies and candy, rather than sitting in the dark in the middle of nowhere with two crazy adults and a weird kid, starts to go with them, but the boy honks the horn, and the scary people disappear, except for one of them, who is followed by Cage until scary person belches light and loud sounds at Cage, and vanishes.
Okay, let's get this over with. The last half hour of the movie is solar flare = everyone dies, and there are some coordinates Cage needs to get, but they're scratched into a door in the basement of the primary school, and his new female friend decides he's crazy, and takes the kids to try to get to caves underground. Cage tries to stop her, but the whisper people steal her car with the kids in it, and she steals another car, and tries to chase them, but gets killed when she's broadsided running a red light.
On the day her mother (crazy numbers girl, remember?) said she would die. Yup.
But Cage finds the numbers! And he gets there! And the kids are there! And the scary people! And... bunnies?
The scary people are really aliens, you see, and they're taking the kids (with some white rabbits they've been given as "pets"***) to a new world to start over, since the sun is going to destroy this world.
I turned to Bob at this point and said "A world of people that is 80% brown, and they pick two white kids and two white bunnies to save? Fail".
Bob said "Maybe they're getting other kids. Or they like bunnies. You know, the main alien says 'why all the bunnies?' and the aliens say 'we like bunnies'".
And yes, as Cage watches his son leave, other smaller blue ships are going up to the mothership, carrying other childern, with, presumably, other bunnies. Or puppies. Or maybe kittens. Perhaps one pair of kids are rather uncomfortably trying to hang on to a pair of baby elephants.
It's all really religious, you see, that's the point - the aliens have diaphanous wings, like angels. And the spaceship is like a picture of God in a cloud that numbers girl was obsessed with. The aliens have saved humanity, and maybe they have before - the spaceship is big and glowy, like the religious picture, and the aliens are... well, they're not very like angels - they're more like the highly evolved robots from AI: Artificial Intelligence, but with butterfly wings. But never mind - it turns out that the numbers didn't really matter - the aliens would have taken the kids anyway. But now Nic Cage can know teh Troof before he's vaporized in the massive solar flare that is apparently going to engulf the planet in radiation and flames.
Why aren't they saving him? Some bullshit excuse. I bet they just don't like adults, because adults ask awkward questions like "Why are you doing this?", "Where are we going?", and "Who's driving this ship, exactly?", whereas kids ask easier questions like "What's for dinner?" and "Can you fly with those wings?".
The kids are taken. Cage falls to his knees, in a contractually obligated manner, then goes to sleep on the stones. Oh, and then wakes up, steaming. The whole world is steaming - he drives back to the city, and watches people panic and riot and steam in despair.
The world ends. Boom. Fire. Nic Cage is reunited with his family, which is pretty pointless, since he didn't like his father, and they're all dead anyway. If it comes to that, I want to spend my last hours with Bob, a box of Krispy Kreme creme-filled chocolate iced doughnuts, and a bottle of rum.
All humanity is dead. But the kids are safe! They've landed on a new planet! Or the wheatfields from Gladiator! And they still have the bunnies! And now they're running to a big tree! And other ships are putting the other kids down all over the planet! It's mind-blowing! It's so deep! God is aliens! Angels are aliens saving us and populating new planets!
...y'know, it might have been a bit more practical to put all the kids together so they could pool their resources ("Let's see... I got rabbit, you got doves... I know! Let's make a ragout!"), but how else can the aliens be sure that their religious ascendancy is preserved in the hazy memories of separated 7 year olds who will make up new religions about magical beings that are each just different enough that the aliens can be entertained by three thousand years of holy wars?
See? Government cheese surplus-sized cheesetastic quasi-religious nonsense. On the level of Gene Roddenberry's initial idea for the first Star Trek movie, where they go to the end of the Universe, and find God.
And I can't resist the cheese. Hand me the crackers, I'm buying the DVD.
*Okay, I left out the skeptical friend[TM], the religious relatives[TM], the cops mistaking him for Teh Terrifying Terrorist[TM], and other bits of useless backstory. Fill in your own cliches as needed; you won't be far off.
**Put your hand up like you're rockin' devil horns, and then stick your thumb out sideways instead of rolling it over your curled fingers. This produces a combination of the letters "I", "L", and "Y".